Check This Out! Part 1

As you can probably tell, I'm not really the type to do link compilation posts.  I love these types of posts, but I think that there are a lot of other bloggers out there that do them so mine would be a bit redundant.  But, I would like to start making note of exceptionally well done posts that I think are worth a look, if you aren't following the blog already.  Most of the time these will be pen/pencil/stationery related posts, but who knows what I might dig up?

Let's start this off with a really well-done piece from my friend Paul, who is a frequent enabler of my ink loving ways.  He compiled a comparison of seven pens that use the Pilot "Super Quality" nib and feed, as well as talking a bit about that nib and feed system.  If you are getting sick of my pencil reviews, this should help you get your fountain pen fix.

The pens in question (his picture, obviously)

The pens in question (his picture, obviously)

While Pilot has a wonderful line of gold nibbed fountain pens and some disposable and fibre feed fountain pens at exceptionally low price points, the bulk of people purchasing a Pilot fountain pen for the first time will take home one of their steel nibbed offerings. The steel nibbed pens shown above all share the same feed and their nibs are interchangeable from model to model. Users of these pens are greeted with a wide variety of nib sizes and pen bodies that range from conservative to ultra funky.

Seriously, this is some great reference material for anyone who likes Pilot pens (I do!) and totally worth a look.  I know it has taken Paul a non-negligible amount of time to procure all of these pens, so I think it's worth reading for that alone, if I haven't already convinced you.  Check it out here and don't hesitate to read some of his other posts as well.  It's good stuff.  :-)

Pen Review: Pilot Custom Heritage 92

(PSST!  If you would rather watch this review than read it, you can find the video version here.)

This is another pen where I have mixed feelings about it.  Full disclosure, this pen is on loan to me from a friend (you should click on that link and check out his blog!) for this review, and the fact that I did not buy the pen myself factors into my overall feelings later on.  But for now, let’s break it down a bit:

Physical presence
As is my custom, I won’t list any hard numbers here because there are plenty places that you can find that information online.  Rather, let’s talk about some things that are less tangible, because those are what makes all the difference.


There’s no denying that the 92 is a real looker.  I would describe the aesthetic of the pen as “modern but classy” and I think all the parts really fit together well, from a design standpoint.  If you aren’t a fan of demonstrators then this is probably not for you, but I am.  I especially like the black plastic used at the top of the cap (finial?  I’m never exactly sure what part of the pen that is) and on the piston knob.  These parts seem minor but to me they give a sense of the boundaries of the pen. I also appreciate the silver colored hardware, since I find gold hardware on pens to be a bit stodgy. 


One of the first things I noticed about this pen was how light it is.  The pen is (obviously) plastic, so it would unreasonable to expect it to be very heavy.  Still, I think I subconsciously equate weight with quality and that is simply not the case most of the time with fountain pens.  This is also the first pen with a premium price tag I have used made out of plastic and so I was surprised when I held it and it felt just like a Lamy Vista.  I would assume that the quality of the materials that go into the 92 is higher than a $30 fountain pen meant for children, but I don’t know anything for sure about that.


Another thing that contributes to the light weight of the 92 is the fact that it is a relatively small pen.  It’s both slightly shorter and slimmer than a Safari, especially when uncapped.  It can be posted, but I find it comfortable enough to use unposted.  The weight when posted is slightly shifted toward the back, but still comfortable.


Writing experience
The nib on this particular pen was a F and boy is it fine!  Below you can see the line width compared to some other writing instruments I had on hand:

Though the nib lays down a quite thin line, I did not find it to be unreasonably scratchy.  I also have experience with a F from a Pilot VP and I found the performance to be similar.  In my limited experience (5 pens) with Pilot’s nibs I have never been disappointed and I would expect that to be the case most of the time.  Though this is a gold nib, I didn’t find it to be at all flexible or springy, and especially with how fine it is I would suggest making an effort to keep a light writing pressure.

Of course, the writing experience is not just about the nib.  You can have a great nib on top of a poor section and the result is a pen that doesn’t get used.  The section on this pen is short but there is nearly no step between the section and barrel so you can hold the pen as far back as necessary.  The threads are fairly shallow and I do not find them uncomfortable to hold at all.  The nib end of the section flares out just slightly and prevents fingers from slipping down to far onto the nib.


Filling system
As far as I know, this pen is Pilot’s only piston-filler, at least in the American market.  I found the piston on this pen to be very smooth to operate and the knob at the end of the pen is large enough to turn easily without needing lilliputian fingers.  While I, again, do not have an exact number for the ink capacity of the pen, it seems like it would be fairly large, definitely over 1 mL.

Otherwise, the filling system is not all that noteworthy.  That may sound like a bad thing, but I prefer a filling system that doesn’t require much thought beyond filling and cleaning because in between those times I would rather think about writing!

One thing I noticed while using this pen was that there seemed to be a bit of ink seeping past the piston seal.  I’m hoping that the previous pictures show this, but without a dedicated macro lens it’s a bit difficult to photograph.  I’m confused as to how this happened, since the pen never left a safe spot on a flat surface in my apartment.  It certainly isn’t enough of a problem to cause concern, except that the pen seems to be unable to be taken apart.  As far as I can tell the body and section are all one piece, which means that it is tough to take the pen apart to dry after cleaning.  I found a hint that the piston can be removed using the same wrench that comes with TWSBI pens, and it certainly looks like this could be the case.  However, given the cost of this pen and the fact that it’s a loaner, I don’t want to start disassembling the pen.

Closing thoughts

If I did not know the cost of this pen, I would be all over it like a monkey on a cupcake.  It writes well, looks snazzy, and has a high capacity filling system.  But, the fact is that price is a factor for those of us trying to live within our means, and that’s where I find the problem with this pen.  As of the writing of this post (spring 2015), you can find the 92 for ~$130 on eBay and Jetpens, and $220 on Goulet Pens (and others, I don't want to paint GPC as the bad guys here!).  

Facing a price tag greater than $200 seems ridiculous for this pen, especially since the materials it is made from are not all that special.  You are either paying an extra $60 for a piston (92 vs CH 74) or an extra $150 for a gold nib (92 vs TWSBI 580, though I do know that this is roughly the cost of a gold nib).

The $130 price seems a bit more reasonable, but for that price I would rather have a Vanishing Point.  The VP is built like a tank and I never worry about tossing it in my bag and taking it with me anywhere.  The 92, being made out of plastic, feels a bit more fragile and I would feel the need to always keep it in a pen case, which is slightly inconvenient.  And, the fact that it has a screw top makes it far less useful to me than a click pen.

Overall, I think this a great pen with a high price.  I think that if you want this pen you should definitely hunt for a way to get it under $150, even though that might mean ordering it from a seller in Japan.  Or as for it as a gift from a rich relative, either way…